Major stock markets in the Gulf ended mixed on Wednesday on prospects of U.S. interest rate cuts in 2024, while worries about maritime trade disruptions in the Red Sea weighed on sentiment.

Dubai's main share index added 0.4%, with blue-chip developer Emaar Properties rising 2.1% and top lender Emirates NBD finishing 0.9% higher.

The Qatari benchmark gained 0.6%, led by a 1.4% rise in Qatar Islamic Bank.

In Abu Dhabi, the index eased 0.1%, hit by a 3.7% slide in Alpha Dhabi Holding. Among other losers, satellite operator Yahsat slipped 1.5%, while geographic data and analytics provider Bayanat retreated 2.5%. In the previous session, Yahsat was down 2.2%, whereas Bayanat added 1.4% after the firms agreed an all-share merger to create the region's first AI-powered space technology company.

However, shares in Abu Dhabi healthcare platform PureHealth Holding closed 76.1% above their listing price on debut, after raising almost $1 billion in an initial public offering (IPO) for 10% of the business.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index fell 0.1%, with Elm Co losing 2.6%. The Saudi stock market saw some downside risks as traders moved to secure their gains.

The market has recorded strong gains for the past two months and remains on an uptrend overall, said George Khoury, Global Head of Education and Research at CFI.

"The volatility in oil prices and geopolitical risks could create fuel risks." Oil prices - a catalyst for the Gulf's financial markets - continued their rise, gripped by worries about disruptions in the Red Sea after Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi militants stepped up attacks on commercial ships.

Brent crude futures closed up more than 1% on Tuesday as some companies rerouted vessels, with longer voyages increasing the cost of transport and insurance.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index concluded 1% lower, as most its constituents were in negative territory including Commercial International Bank. Egypt is nearing a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to expand its $3 billion rescue programme to around $6 billion, Bloomberg News reported on Wednesday, citing people familiar with the deliberations.

  • SAUDI ARABIA eased 0.1% to 11,703
  • ABU DHABI fell 0.1% to 9,482
  • DUBAI gained 0.4% to 4,014
  • QATAR added 0.6% to 10,205
  • EGYPT dropped 1% to 24,838
  • BAHRAIN was up 0.2% to 1,918
  • OMAN rose 0.5% to 4,593
  • KUWAIT advanced 1% to 7,503

(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)